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The Australian Bureau of Statistics has undertaken a review of its Indigenous Status Standard.

The Indigenous Standard provides the basis for the ABS to collect statistics about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is also used by other organisations that collect this information. A key part of the Standard is the ABS Standard Indigenous Question. This was introduced in 1996 and is supported by the Council of Australia Governments in schedule F of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement which states that “all jurisdictions will adopt the standard ABS Indigenous question and recording categories on data collection forms and information systems for key data sets”.

The review focused on four areas:

  • Concepts - including the name of the variable and a nominal and an operational definition of the variable;
  • Classification and coding information - to explore potential changes to improve data quality in classifying responses and current coding procedures;
  • Collection methods - including the Standard Indigenous Question and whether it is 'fit for purpose' as the means by which respondents identify as Indigenous or non-Indigenous in ABS and non-ABS data collections; and
  • Measurement issues - to review and update where applicable, terminology guidelines and data quality matters.


The consultation process is now closed. An information paper will be released later this year. Further enquiries can be sent to

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Commonwealth of Australia 2016

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